Skip to Content, Navigation, or Footer.
We inform. You decide.
Saturday, May 18, 2024

Welcome to Division I-A, Western Kentucky.

The Hilltoppers will play their first game as a Football Bowl Subdivision (formerly Division I-A) school in The Swamp on Saturday at 12:30 p.m., after migrating from the Football Championship Subdivision (formerly Division I-AA).

Western Kentucky, an independent team waiting to join the Sun Belt in 2009, is the 2007 version of the Gators' annual whipping-boy opening opponent.

In 2005, Urban Meyer won his first game against Wyoming 32-14, and the Gators feasted on Southern Mississippi in a 34-7 win last season.

Even though they have 11-straight winning seasons and a I-AA national championship from five years ago, the Hilltoppers know the odds are stacked against them.

"There are just hundreds and probably thousands of examples throughout sports in general of those times when nobody thought this or that could have happened, and then all of a sudden," Western Kentucky coach David Elson said. "That's what's great about sports. That's what's great about college football. Nobody ever thought Boise State could do what they did, and all of a sudden, they're beating Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl. We treat it like every other game and expect to win."

If they are to win, they'll have to beat Urban Meyer at his own game.

Western Kentucky is playing copycat with the defending national champions.

Elson's squad runs a spread attack with two quarterbacks - a passer and a change-of-pace athlete.

He said his offense is a mix of UF and West Virginia's schemes.

"In this day and age, the spread has become so popular that it seems like everybody is doing a version of it if they're not basing out of it," Elson said. "We wanted to be able to stretch defenses with a mobile quarterback as well as spreading the field. Like everybody else, we've stolen from everybody. We've got a little bit of what people consider to be the Urban Meyer spread. We've got good relationships with the coaching staff at West Virginia, so we've got a good flavor of West Virginia."

Notre Dame transfer David Wolke won a three-man battle to start under center on Saturday.

Enjoy what you're reading? Get content from The Alligator delivered to your inbox

Wolke can handle Saturday's atmosphere perhaps better than anyone else on the team thanks to his minimal big-time experience.

"If you ask me if I'm scared, I'm not scared," he said. "I played against good football teams. I'm not new to it."

K.J. Black - a 6-foot-4, 210-pound redshirt freshman - has his own package, Elson said, and he is expected to spell Wolke much like Tim Tebow did for Chris Leak last season.

"He really and truly is one of our better overall athletes on our football team," Elson said. "It doesn't make any sense to have him sitting on the sideline."

Western Kentucky's most dangerous player may be wide receiver Curtis Hamilton, who caught 52 passes for 841 yards and 10 touchdowns in nine games last season.

He could present matchup problems for the Gators, who will likely be without top cornerback Markihe Anderson.

Does that give the Hilltoppers a glimmer of hope?

Probably not.

"They're ranked No. 3 in the country and we're a transitional I-A program," Elson said. "It would be a major upset by the standards of the media and by general common sports knowledge."

Support your local paper
Donate Today
The Independent Florida Alligator has been independent of the university since 1971, your donation today could help #SaveStudentNewsrooms. Please consider giving today.

Powered by SNworks Solutions by The State News
All Content © 2024 The Independent Florida Alligator and Campus Communications, Inc.